Thursday, April 15, 2010

Still looking for the right "shoe" & Vincere Grip Socks

I've been driving myself nuts trying to find SOMETHING to run in that is close to barefoot but still a little protection. It's warming up here but everyone in my neighborhood (which is the only place I've run so far since I run at night) is putting out fertilizer which means there are little white balls of it on a lot of sections of sidewalk. Ick. There appear to be two schools of thought on skin absorption and I'm on the side of things soaking in. Mostly because I've used a lot of essential oils over the past 5 years and I know how easily absorbed they are.

In my massive running experience (not) I've found that I like barefoot running best so I need to find something closest to that. My goofy pool shoes are okay but not thin enough (at 6mm) to give me the barefoot feel.

Sadly my Vibram Five Fingers experience is at an end. Boo hoo. When I first tried on these shoes at REI 2 months ago I fell in love. I tried on the Sprints and the Classics and they both felt great. The REI guy said the KSOs might be best because they Keep Stuff Out.
So I ordered them and ended up with a pair that quality control might have let slip by. I have a pair of Classics now that are on the edge of cramping my toes because of the amount of material in between the toes--only on the left foot. Ugh. They're going back too. So, I'm back to square one. I want to be nice and say, "It's probably me." But in reality I really LOVED those pairs I tried on in REI (too bad I didn't just buy one of them then!) so I'm thinking it's a QC problem. Bummer. Because I ran up and down the aisles at REI grinning like a fool and so excited about owning a pair.

 3 days of searching the web. The Terra Plana Evos look great but are $160.
The cheapest shoe in their barefoot line is $100 and looks like a Ked. Hmm...Keds? Might still be a possibility. Looks like JCPenny carries them, I'll have to stop by the store sometime this week.

I used to be a whitewater kayaker so I started wondering if there was something in that arena. I found these Stohlquist socks with kevlar soles for $40.  They look good but I'm not a fan of the high sock look. I don't want the "shoes" to be really noticeable.

Which started me researching socks, beach socks, sand socks, etc. I found Sockwa which I REALLY liked the look of--the low sock look is exactly what I was looking for. Of course the barefoot community is already familiar with these (I wasn't) and have reviewed them several times. Someone has even spoken to the Sockwa people and they are coming out with the Amphiabian Sockwa with a TPU sole at the end of May 2010 for $45.
That's exciting but not going to help me right now. They currently have just the neoprene version for $20 that will wear through in some number of miles. That would have been okay with me since my mileage is so low still but the only place that I could find selling them was the swimoutlet and they have sold out of a lot of the sizes.

And then I found Sand Socks for $20!!!  I contacted the company explaining that I was a barefoot runner (taking a bit of liberty there since I've only been running for 2 months) and that I was interested in their socks and wondered if they ever considered them for other applications (the are most often used for Sand Soccer, Beach Vollyball, and by Beach Olympians). I told them I wanted a sock that would let me feel the road, be minimalist (no heel, no support) and if maybe they had something with kevlar or the like on the bottom or would they consider such a thing? for people who wanted to run on the road.

An hour later customer service responded with:

Our Grip Socks hold up very well while running on concrete.  They have a tougher laminate (not actually Kevlar, but similar) on the bottom of the neoprene sole designed to prevent wear-through when used on harder surfaces. Of course, they will not last as long as hard-rubber-soled shoes but they should work well for you.
Grip Socks weigh ~ 1.6oz ea so with this lightweight they give as close to a feel of bare feet as one can get while having protection.

My response:

Hey! I like your customer service! :-) This is excellent news and I've just ordered a pair. They sound about as close to barefoot as you can get which is what so many of us are looking for. I can't wait to get them and give them a spin. If they work as well as it looks like they will I'll post about them on the minimalist footwear sites I'm part of. Sockwa is coming out with a sock that is similar that is geared toward the barefoot/minimalist running crowd but it's not coming out until the end of May. In the mean time you can't even order many of Sockwa's regular types--most of the sizes are sold out. I'm guessing that's because several people have reviewed them on these sites.
Thanks again for your help!

And finally:

We'd love a review.
Sockwa was inspired when 2 guys with a soccer T-shirt company saw our product at a Sand Soccer tournament in Ft. Myers, but it looks as thought they've made themselves more visible to the barefoot running crowd than we have, so we need to catch up.

Sand Socks and Grip Socks (the kind I ordered) have:
- a more breathable Lycra upper
- softer exposed threads for less abrasion against the foot
- better footprint design of the sole
    (particularly a left and right foot rather than single footprint)
- a different ankle grip (hook-and-loop closure) to adjust to different ankle shapes
- a history of 15 years being used by Beach Olympians to children
- higher quality (wet-suit grade) neoprene
- a better control and understanding of our manufacturing sources and factories for quality, labor fairness, and inventory control

Let us know what you think!  The tougher Grip Socks sole laminate will not stretch as well as the Duratex-coated Sand Socks sole, something we had to compromise for the longevity on the harder surfaces.

Find us on facebook at Vincere Sand Socks to add or read feedback.

Very interesting! I liked hearing about the socks and why they think they're better. I can't wait to try them. As far as looks the only thing I would like better are a lower top--more along the lines of an ankle sock or less. That was one of the things I liked about the Sockwa style. I liked the idea of a left and right foot, the higher quality, and labor fairness. I'll let you know how I like them--they should arrive sometime next week!


  1. You should try huaraches running sandals. They are, by far, the closest thing to barefoot but with added protection. There are free "how-to" videos and huarache kits at

  2. Fantastic to see more and more get up and enjoy running and get into the minimalist movement with a natural running style.


  3. Thanks Steven! I'd forgotten about that site! I just went and ordered a DIY kit. They look easy enough and definitely minimal enough--good for summer anyway. And if I don't like running in them I'm sure I'll wear them for just day to day use. I wore my Chacos all last summer pretty much everyday which is why I have those weird tan lines on my feet pic.

  4. I wear the VFF sprint and while I like them very much, there are some design flaws. I might try the sandals this summer, but I don't like the idea of rope rubbing on my foot. Also, the VFF were terrible below 30 degrees. I am just not that tough! I thought about trying ninja shoes for winter, but those socks might totally work. What do you use in winter?

  5. Sarah, I had to look at the How to Tie video before I decided to order them--seeing how they fit changed my mind! I don't mind flip flops though so... I've only just started running 2 months ago and I'm still wearing my original pool shoes/aqua socks/whatever they're called with a pair of Smart Wool socks. They've been great in the cold CO weather. I'm thinking maybe the socks I ordered might work for cold weather or maybe the Soft Star Grippy Roo shoes I also ordered today! OMG---I. Need. To. Stop!!!!

  6. I gave the Vincere's a shot recently. Not a bad "shoe", but the fit is a little funny. I ordered a pair that should have fit me, but I found the sole to be just a bit too short. When running, the edge of the shoe ended up digging into my heel. After running 3 miles in them my heel felt like it was on fire. So, my conclusion is that if you want to run in these you might consider ordering them a size up. I still haven't given up on them, I might try to modify the Vincere to add a bit of moleskin or something to the edge of the shoe to prevent rubbing.

  7. Great to see all of the barefoot runners and enthusiasts who want to change the paradigm of footwear. We have solutions for all surfaces thanks to our recent Sockwa Amphibian.

    Sockwa Amphibian - A true indoor / outdoor solution that has a soft flexible, crushable upper with breathability and a 1.2 mm TPU Sole.. That's Thermal Poly Urethane and it's better than rubber. More durable, and better wet slip, meaning it won't slip on wet surfaces and wears well on concrete.

    Sockwa Dojo - Available really soon. This minimalist indoor shoe that's ideal for Pilates, Yoga, and other indoor activities where some basic protection is needed without giving up any feel of the ground beneath you.

    Sockwa Beach - Our original and the new Beach Hi rock this year in a bunch of new great colors. We added a thin micro fleece to the inside of the sole for extreme comfort. The thinnest durable sock available. Designed for the beach, sand and water.

    Save $7 on your order if you enter coupon code SAVE7WITHSOCKWA

    Thanks for your support, and we look forward to sharing our philosophy and attitude with you.


  8. Helpful post. I will be ordering some of those sock/shoes. I am very new and have some questions on footwear. I had an ideas...
    was thinking of ordering a couple of Kevlar pvc insoles to add to socks and one to make a zero shoe dyi. Any thoughts?

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